The artist has previously described the aesthetics in her work as appealing to “childlike naïveté” helping her to soften the emphasis on the ego, ritual, intimacy, and stigma that society generally attaches to sex: “Cherry blossoms (sakura) are a perfect balance of sexual innuendo, beauty, and innocence. The cherry blossom, symbolizing love in many cultures, adds an additional element in a body of work that covers both areas: an innocent love and a simple uninhibited lust.”
The subversive nature of these candy-coloured works does not yet lie in its overt sexual undertones and overtones alone: sublimation and fetishism reveal the hidden power of horror. Harold’s preference for fragmented gestures, postures, or figures, her material juxtaposition of elements, textures, and motifs – with repeated insistence on hair, lips, hands, and severed heads – de-centres the aesthetic perspective to create a substantial, material, and organic displacement. Her use of the traditional Japanese weaving technique of ‘chirimen’ developed some 500 years ago gives birth to soft sculptures that, while often neglected in the fine art world, create a dynamic tension between fabric and light. By covering her works in fabric, the artist shows particular interest in how fabric absorbs the light and makes the sculptures look softer; this also gives the sculptures a pastel shade and creates a surreal sense of their presence.
Originally an illustrator, Harold creates sculptures that also de-centre the singularity of the figure and its polymorphic presence in the artistic discourse. Subtle and striking at the same time, the colours reflect the artist’s interest for inner dialogue, self-reflection, and a certain nostalgia that repeats throughout her body of works. What is apparently abject also exerts insuppressible fascination; the light cast upon the fabric averts to the darker undersides of pleasure; the cuts and juxtapositions emphasize the impression of marks in the sensory. These figures could also be seen as disfigurements – the various cuts, forms, and colourful volumes reveal hidden and partial interiorities, strange yet attractive deformities, or innocent postures.
In Geode especially [images 1-3], the skin and flesh are torn apart to reveal sharp-edged crystals and a clear cut, “a field of death” that defines the human face (Artaud). The smoothness of the volume contrasts the sharp incision and the deep, unsettling cut that fascinates through its very strangeness. The crystals are expressive of an internal fracture and intimate instability that underline emotional imbalances. The severed head in Bloom [images 4-5] makes it unclear whether the figure is caught in an expression of pleasure or suffering, blurring the line between emotional states and revealing divided or unreconciled self-perceptions. Harold’s use of a transparent sensuality confronts the viewer with the sublime and the castrating, unraveling the full force of the horror of the feminine. The artist reverses the experience of imbalance with an almost cathartic effect, focusing not on the erotic displacement but on the states and individual appropriation of (symbolic) aggressions.
Text by Sabin Bors, April 21, 2015